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The sub-tropical Madeira archipelago is home to three breathtaking golf courses, and we’ve suggested two stunning accommodation options for the perfect golf trip.
Known as ‘the islands of eternal spring’, Madeira is on the same latitude as Morocco with temperatures ranging from 25°C in the summer to 18°C in the winter, ideal for playing golf. Clube de Golf Santo da Serra and Palheiro Golf are on Madeira’s main island while the third course, Porto Santo Golfe, lies a short flight or boat trip away on the island of Porto Santo.
Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport is located around 14km northeast from the capital Funchal. The island of Porto Santo is a 20-minute flight away or a two-hour boat trip from Funchal, where our two chosen hotels are.
Around 15km from Funchal, Robert Trent Jones Snr’s 1991 redesign of Clube de Golf Santo da Serra created a spectacular 27-hole complex in a beautiful natural landscape, with views of Porto Santo and the bay of Machico. The Machico and Desertas nines form the 6,825-yard championship course, on which the European Tour’s Madeira Islands Open was held on 10 occasions. The 3rd and 4th on the Machico are regarded as the signature holes, sitting atop cliffs more than 2,200 feet above the Atlantic. The 3,193-yard Serras course offers a delightful alternative, with lakes and mountain views along flatter terrain.
Just 5km from Funchal, the Cabell B Robinson-designed Palheiro Golf opened in 1993 and sits within the magnificent Palheiro Estate, which is more than 200 years old. The course borders the five-star Hotel Casa Velha do Palheiro and meanders through a pristine environment of maritime pine and botanical woodland, garnished with lush, sub-tropical vegetation. At nearly 1,640ft above sea level, the course enjoys dramatic views of Madeira’s mountains and the Atlantic. The par-72, 6,656-yard course takes full advantage of Madeira’s hilly terrain, with abrupt ridges and deep valleys.
Porto Santo Golfe on the island of Porto Santo hosted the Madeira Islands Open between 2009 and 2011. Laid out by the great Severiano Ballesteros, the 7,036-yard course, which opened in 2004 and was built to environmentally conscious standards, comprises two distinct nines, spanning an area of sand dunes and basalt cliffs. The US-style southern route is dotted with lakes, requiring a long, precise game; while the northern route is atop beachside cliffs. The signature hole is the 200-yard, par-three 13th, which requires a shot over a gorge to reach a cliff-top green.
This five-star resort features an oceanfront spa with indoor and outdoor therapy suites, three swimming pools, tennis courts, a gym, and is close to Praia Formosa Beach and 15 minutes’ walk to Funchal city centre. All rooms are elegantly furnished and include a balcony and marble bathrooms. Al fresco dining is offered at the French-inspired Brisa Do Mar, the Italian Villa Cipriani, and there’s an elegant main dining room.
This gem sits atop a natural peninsula with panoramic Atlantic views and private sea access. There are indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts and top-class spa and wellness facilities. All guest rooms have twin queen-size beds, en suite marble bathrooms, and a veranda with views of the hotel’s gardens or the Bay of Funchal. There’s cafes, bars and three restaurants, including the 2-Michelin star Il Gallo d’Oro serving Mediterranean cuisine.